Its an exercise of sociology imposed onto the political sphere and serves as a reflective mirror of the other participants in the liberal-democratic model that has come to permeate Western society; a model that is increasingly being subject to change, or in the phrase of Walter Benjamin, “the shock of the new.” The old means of opening the wallet, buying peace and time, seems increasingly protracted form of racism as the have-not seeks more than a seat on the back of the bus.
The basic premise is that society is run by a small elite, who can blather and preach the virtues of democracy, while maintaining an inherently pyramidal societal scheme, divide the opposition among themselves,call external criticism subversive, employ existential threats, reprise the holocaust bugaboo as palliative and in short, do all in their power to maintain and enhance their colonial business model. But what to do in a country like Israel with a fast growing religious population that challenges the status quo?
Until recently, say the first Gulf War, religious Jews and Israel’s secular Jews have assumed the thesis that political power is the natural habitat of secular Jews. But, there have been natural developments, sometimes ironic and unexpected that challenge a comfortable arrangement in which a ruling class’s control of the state went on its business, moseying along under the radar of the gaze of religious Zionists- a tormented contradiction in itself not fully resolved- and the outright religious, the Haredim. This is similar to the popular explosions in Syria, Jordan, Yemen etc. where the restraint and repression was less guileful and subtle to begin with and the packaging and propaganda less professional. One process is the common tendency of those excluded to become more normalized over time mixed with the fading in this case of the dominant Zionist ideology which would have to be discarded, after the herd they could round up is back in their pens and the barn doors sealed.
In Israel, both religious Jews, and those identifying with them, and secular affiliated are transforming their thinking about how the state is defining, controlling and delivering societal values. For the former group, the “jewish jews”, once the genie is out of the bottle, the taboo of governmental tinkering is shedded, and the previously embedded self-negating sentiment that cloaked their own self-image, a poor one, with regard to the Zionist ruling class, becomes a battle ground; not a level playing field by any means, but a definite awakening that they have let themselves be had, especially after traversing a period in which the oppressed assumes in exaggerated manners, the poses and gestures of the ruling class. Eventually, they look in the mirror and see the suit doesn’t fit…
For the ruling class, an accomodationist ideology is always on the menu. The colonialist mantra, means giving a sense of inclusion while simultaneously letting them know who holds the whip, and this largesse is conditional. And making them dependent on it is part of the process. A kind of patriarchy as in the place of women being in the kitchen and bedroom; the religious given the right of decision on ceremony and ritual, whereas significant decisions allegedly requiring the skills of insiders and those considered more worldly and presentable are made in more exclusive corridors that subvert the democratic process. The other response to being marginalized and one common to seemingly all societies is a form of disengagement; the ruling bodies are perceived as an ill, cancerous and dangerous, and the course of action is to distance from it; an auto-marginalization. Cohesive groups doing a passive-aggressive routine.
The religious, or at least some of their communities, know the state to be hostile to Judaism and Torah. Their response is not to change the hegemony of the oppressor, but to exploit it as pariahs from the outside. They incur wrath for so doing, but it also serves the interests of the ruling class to have such a dependent subculture under their control. At least as long as the disengaged group does not get uppity and start fashioning a credible alternative, thereby increasing interaction and the risk of “contagion” or mutual influence. The security wall in Israel being a metaphor for the walls between sealed off groupings of citizens with little or no contact between them.